How to Solve the Climate Crisis

It’s the weekend, and so I have decided to give you all a break from the doom and gloom that we seem to be facing on a daily basis, and instead enlighten you all on award-winning journalist, Verity Johnson’s solution to the ragged subject of climate emergencies. She has the solution; buy a KeepCup.

She even seems to think that this is the solution to being a feminist as well. And no… it is not April 1st. I seem to say that a lot these days, don’t I?

I’ll be honest, I’ve never been overly concerned about environmentalism.
It’s not like I wanted to douse the planet in napalm, I just haven’t ever really been an environmental type. I was put off easily and early on by the stereotypes around environmental activists, all of whom I knew were more earnest than an American Christian summer camp leader, and used lemons as deodorant. 
And honestly, I just never really thought about it much more than that. Yeah, I recycled and bought carbon offsetting on flights, but my efforts probably never amounted to more than spitting on a house fire.  

For a Stuff journalist to be saying all that, expect to be lectured on how this is totally the wrong way of thinking. Expect Verity to reveal how she has now seen the light – Hallelujah! – and how we sinners must all do so too.

However, all of that changed when my office reacted with outrage to the news that Wellington City Council is refusing to recycle “compostable” coffee cups. We’re a KeepCup? office. 

How absolutely environmental of you, Verity. A KeepCup office indeed. I had no idea this was how to save the world. You really are an inspiration.

It just so happens that I’m also the resident caffeine junkie, who at any one point will be surrounded by a sea of half-empty, non-recyclable coffee-stained cylinders of imminent turtle death. And so in the climate of office-based outrage, it was collectively decided this week that I needed to change. A jury was called at the watercooler, and I had to explain myself …
My problem has been that environmentalism has never been my cause. 

So you keep saying, Verity. I get it. You were not an environmentalist… until suddenly, you were.

I have a theory that everyone has their one cause. One thing they get really, really het up over, which provides an endless well of outrage and energy to draw upon and fuels them to do all the campaigning, donating and small everyday life changes that add up to significant change.  We all have one big cause we’re willing to die on a rock for, like a morally outraged Prometheus. 
Mine’s always been feminism (closely followed by the exploitation of vulnerable people). For a lot of people, it’s animal abuse. And, for the watercooler witch trial, it’s takeaway coffee cups.

Sigh. Not only is this going to be a climate crisis lecture, it is going to be a long winded one too.

And when you’re like me (chaotic, last-minute and with an appalling grasp of time), it’s easy to drown out the vague traces of guilt about taking Ubers everywhere with, “But I’m too late to wait for the bus!” Likewise I always justify takeaway cups by reasoning that I’d never remember to carry a KeepCup/wash it/not smash it like I have the last five phones I’ve had these past 12 months. 

You know what? I really hate people who talk about ‘first world problems’, but this is the worst case of first world problems that I have ever encountered. Having to take an Uber… not being able to remember a KeepCup. For goodness sake…

I tried explaining all of these things to the cardigan-clad office judiciary. But midway through I heard myself saying, “I just don’t think it’s my responsibility given that 100 multinationals have been responsible for 70 per cent of the world’s carbon emissions … besides, what impact will one individual have …” 
Not only was I denying my individual responsibility in upholding a damaging system. But I was also downplaying my role in being able to help solve it. I sounded exactly like your average anti-feminist. 

I am still trying to figure out where feminism fits into this. Being unenvironmental, or unable to handle the massive issues involved with a KeepCup surely must apply pretty much equally to men and women. It seems not.

The environment isn’t my great inflaming passion, but I can see how, as an individual, I’ve got responsibility in climate change and should therefore do more to create change. At least to avoid being a glaring hypocrite who asked others to make small changes to things they didn’t really care about, but didn’t do it myself. 

So you keep saying. Verity. Just one thing though. Climate crises, if they exist (which I doubt) affect men and women equally, whereas feminism advantages only women. They are not comparable in any shape or form.

And yes, swearing off takeaway cups is a tiny action. But just in the same way that standing up for someone who’s being sexually harassed at the office can be life-changing, it’s the spending choices of everyday consumers that dictate the habits of big companies – look at the popularity of free-range products. 

So I bought a KeepCup. Two, actually. And now I couldn’t call myself a feminist without it.


Well, I am aghast. Buying a KeepCup makes you both an environmentalist and a feminist. I have no idea how… but apparently, it does.

I have a tiny suggestion for Verity. If you really want to save the environment singlehandedly… buy a china cup. Even better, bring one to the office from home. There. Climate crisis solved.